In discussing Effective STEM Classrooms, we’ve touched on the role of teacher as facilitator, but haven’t really talked about what that looks like.
The next characteristic I see in Effective STEM Classrooms is Support (yes, with a capital S).
Support can look different ways depending on the grade level of the students, but one thing that is consistent is that it is always transparent. Students shouldn’t see all of the scaffolding you’ve put into place to help them be successful. From the teacher’s view, it’s a tremendous amount of work to make our classrooms come across like effortless, well-oiled machines, but behind the scenes is usually a different story of long hours, lack of resources and endless professional development.
From the student’s perspective, Support has the following components:
Resources- It’s important for students to have the resources they need. This doesn’t necessarily meaning spoon-feeding them (although for younger grades it might mean printing out the research or xeroxing key materials for each team). It means having the laptops already in the room, helping to locate a resource that a ream might need, etc.
Encouragement- Students need to know that you are there for them and that you are going to be supportive of their ideas and solutions. Encouragement in the form of praise can make a world of difference to some students.
Feedback- Sometime acting as a sounding board for ideas is the type of support that teams need. This helps the students generate worth-while, solid solutions and also helps the teacher to covertly check for student understanding.
Support might have not made your top 10 list of effective STEM classrooms, but if you look closely, you can see through its transparency.